Helpful smiles even in cyberspace aisles

Muscatine Journal photo of Jim Simmons, director of the Hy-Vee supermarket in my town.
Muscatine Journal photo of Jim Simmons, director of the Hy-Vee supermarket in my town.

Jim Simmons gets it.

On the afternoon of Jan. 28, I said in an email to Simmons, who is director of the Hy-Vee supermarket in Muscatine:


I was in the store this morning and bought a container of Chef Carrie’s Tai peanut salad for lunch. Does she have a Facebook or an app or something? I’m telling you, I’d be stopping there on a regular basis if I knew when the Tai peanut salad would be in Chef Carrie’s cooler at lunch time. That stuff was awesome.

Just 2 cents from a satisfied customer …


At the same time, I also posted a comment on my Facebook page about how great the salad had been. I didn’t expect much to happen in response. I should have known better because I’ve gotten to know Jim in the past year or so. He is a great guy who clearly takes to heart the Hy-Vee edict for customer service.

Personally, this is pleasing because I grew up in Chariton, Iowa, during the time it was the corporate hometown for Hy-Vee, which today is based in West Des Moines and annually records sales of more than $8 billion at its 235 stores in eight Midwestern states. Many of my boyhood friends are store directors, truck drivers and warehouse workers for the company whose motto has been “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle” for as long as I can remember.

But even knowing all of that, I didn’t expect Jim to respond to my email within two hours, which he did, saying: Chris, I’ll get something worked out. I’ll have Carrie line it up and let you know. Jim

Hy-Vee Chef CarrieFor those who don’t know, Chef Carrie is Carrie Hillman. According to her bio on the Muscatine Hy-Vee website, she graduated from Rockridge High School in Edgington, Ill., and she still lives in Rock Island County. She attended Black Hawk College, where she completed the commercial art program. She has more than 10 years of experience as a cook and catering chef. She has worked for Hy-Vee since 2007, starting at a store in Davenport.

“I have been involved in my local farmers’ market for six years, selling artisan-baked goods, photographic art and heirloom vegetables,” she said in her Hy-Vee bio. “I enjoy gardening, creative cooking and art.”

One thing is for sure, she is an artist with food, as you can see from this posting by the Muscatine Hy-Vee, which appeared Thursday — eight days after my email exchange with Simmons — in my Facebook news feed:

New in my chef’s case today, Thai Peanut Noodle Salad & Spinach Orzo Salad. Also, Shredded Mojo Beef Enchiladas with Mango Salsa and Avocado Cream! Hope to see you soon! – Chef Carrie.

Her posting was accompanied by two mouth-watering photos.

All I can say is: Wow.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see this until after lunch on Thursday, so I didn’t make it out to the store. But they’ve got me. I’ll be following Chef Carrie’s posts on Facebook. And I’ll be looking for them earlier in the day from here on out.

Hy-Vee Orzo salad
Chef Carrie’s Spinach Orzo Salad at the Muscatine Hy-Vee
HY-Vee Tai salad
Chef Carrie’s Thai Peanut Noodle Salad at the Muscatine Hy-Vee


3 thoughts on “Helpful smiles even in cyberspace aisles

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